Make it special.

I had lunch with a friend today that was dragged by his wife (I assume, since he didn’t go willingly) to a speaker about simplifying your family’s life. As he summarized the expert’s main ideas, it was clear that I struck out on many: limit the number of toys (oops), clothes (have you seen my daughter’s clothes?), and books (my husband told me I had to take a month off from scholastic book orders because I order so many books); eliminate screen time (total loss on that one, our TV is on pretty much 24/7); and limit activities (my kindergartner does drama, piano, gymnastics and basketball, and I wonder why she is cranky). I was pretty much feeling like a loser parent when he mentioned the fourth main idea from the expert: create routines and traditions to make every day special. I am not sure how this simplifies anything, except that kids like routines. An example was to make setting the table something fun by letting them use fancy napkins or put the forks in the wrong place.

I exhaled, relieved that finally I was doing something right! I totally do this. My blog readers can vouch for it. We eat in the dining room on a Tuesday, light candles, make my linen napkins dirty. We have theme nights (remember Taco Tuesday?). Vindication, my friends. So my kids may watch too much TV, have too many toys, books and clothes, and never stay home and play “creatively,” at least we occasionally use linen napkins. Maybe, just maybe, my children will not end up at a therapist’s office.

Tonight our fun took the form of a fortune cookie. I made Teriyaki shrimp, brown rice, and sliced up pineapple. In keeping with the “fun” idea, I threw a couple fortune cookies on the plate.

This meal follows some of my main tenets, beyond that vague concept of having fun. Take the familiar, and add a twist. Kyra’s favorite food fluctuates between salami and teriyaki chicken (yes, these are odd choices). So I kept the flavor of the teriyaki, and substituting shrimp. I love shrimp because they are so quick to cook, and the frozen shrimp taste pretty good. The pineapple follows my view that you don’t need to have a vegetable as your side dish, fruit is good too. Everyone enjoyed dinner tonight, and were excited to open their fortune cookies. Make dinner about something other than just the food, and your kids will be more willing to sit down to dinner.

Now if I could just clean out all the clutter in my house, I would be the perfect parent. Reminds me of my favorite Mary Poppins song, Practically Perfect.


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